Plea to help stranded Filipino nurses unable to fly back to UK during COVID-19 pandemic

Many of the UK registrants face losing their homes because they cannot get back to work

Staff nurse Marion Mangalindan is stranded in the Philippines, where he was visiting family

The UK government is being asked to help 170 NHS nurses stranded in the Philippines who are unable to return to the UK.

Many of the UK-based Filipino nurses were visiting relatives but have now been left stranded because of the COVID-19 pandemic and drastic cuts to airline schedules.

Excalation in coronavirus pandemic coincided with trips to see family

Nottingham interventional radiology theatre staff nurse, Marion Mangalindan, is spokesperson for the 'UK RN Workforce is Stranded' group. He was taking annual leave to visit his parents at the end of February when the COVID-19 pandemic began to escalate.

'There were only six cases of coronavirus in the UK when I left, none in the Philippines and there were no travel restrictions – but in the space of a few weeks, there was a sharp rise in cases across the world,’ he said.

He said while many nurses want to return help colleagues, the cost and infrequency of flights was proving prohibitive.

Flights from Philippines capital Manila to London were not available until 14 May and cost more than £2,500, as of 7 May, compared to approximately £1,000 before the pandemic.

Financial fallout of having to take unpaid leave

The stranded nurses are facing financial consequences from being unable to return to the UK and their jobs.

While some NHS employers have given nurses special paid leave in the circumstances, others have only agreed to authorise unpaid leave, meaning some in financial limbo.

Filipino Nurses Association in the UK spokesperson, Francis Fernando said the nurses could lose their UK homes.

'These nurses will be evicted from their flats if they haven’t paid rent and bills,’ he said.

Mr Fernando called on the UK government to provide financial or travel assistance.

An NHS Employers spokesperson said: 'We have made representations on behalf of NHS organisations with staff members overseas, particularly in the Philippines, who have not been able to return to the UK.’ 

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office was asked for comment.

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